These teachers in a low-income district found a genius way to meet with parents.

Eager to help parents understand what their kids were learning in school, teachers Brittany Harris and Colleen Ryan decided to bring school to them — with the help of a big red school bus.

"A lot of our parents don't have cars, or the shifts they work don't work with the schedule of time teachers are available at school, so this service allows convenience for them," Ryan explains.

Harris bought the old bus — which she and Ryan named The Passage — from a relative last fall after struggling to connect with families in her low-income Chattanooga, Tennessee, district.


The educators stocked it with tables, chairs, books, games, and iPads, and they took it on the road.

Ryan (left) and Harris on the bus. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

Meetings on the bus last 30 minutes and focus on either math or reading.

One of the goals is to update parents, many of whom are unfamiliar with Common Core methods, on the new problem-solving techniques their children are using to do their homework.

Breakfast is often included — as are games, including math bingo, Trouble, and Legos.

Harris works with a student and parent on the bus. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

"To hear the student talk about [how] the bus being at their house was the highlight of their weekend because they got to show their teacher their house is enlightening," Ryan says.

Harris initially paid for the mini-school-on-wheels out of her own pocket, an experience shared by many teachers who are increasingly expected to furnish their own school supplies.  

In 2015, K-12 educators spent an average of nearly $500 on furniture, cleaning supplies, poster board, and other essential items for their classrooms — not including side projects like The Passage.

Harris and Ryan shop for supplies at a local IKEA. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

The project is now funded by several grants.

"We knew we wanted to do this no matter what," Ryan says.

Ryan credits The Passage for helping her and Harris integrate more deeply into the community where they work.

The educators have taken the bus to block parties and hosted group events, though being welcomed into their students' homes is often the highlight of a day on the road.

"It brings a whole new perspective to a teacher," she says.

Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

In addition to the grants that help furnish materials for the rolling classroom, the bus receives donated books and supplies.

The mobile learning lab is already showing results.

One boy who had trouble understanding some assignments did a 180 after Ryan and Harris came knocking on his door.

"[He] was great in math but struggled in reading," Ryan says. "With the bus, we taught him strategies of how to understand word problems even if he couldn't read it fully, which allowed him to pass his benchmark math test."

For some pupils, she explains, learning is about more than academics.

It's showing up that matters.

"A simple act of just going to a house can lift the lowest of spirits of a student."

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only marked the end of an illustrious life of service to law and country, but the beginning of an unprecedented judicial nomination process. While Ginsburg's spot on the Supreme Court sits open, politicians and regular Americans alike argue over whether or not it should be filled immediately, basing their arguments on past practices and partisan points.

When a Supreme Court vacancy came up in February of 2016, nine months before the election, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell refused to even take up a hearing to consider President Obama's pick for the seat, arguing that it was an election year and the people should have a say in who that seat goes to.

Four years later, a mere six weeks before the election, that reasoning has gone out the window as Senate Republicans race to get a nominee pushed through the approval process prior to election day. Now, they claim, because the Senate majority and President are of the same party, it makes sense to proceed with the nomination.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Going against most standard business advice, Bill Penzey has never hesitated to make his beliefs known to the people who buy his products. The outspoken CEO of Penzey's Spices, America's largest independent spice retailer, made headlines when he directly called out President Trump's racism after his election, and this February he published a public statement decrying the "corruption and cruelty" he says have taken over the Republican party.

Penzey, whose business headquarters reside just outside of Milwaukee, has been openly supportive of the protests against racial injustice taking place all over the nation. But after protests in Kenosha became riotous, someone wrote him a letter suggesting that if it were his store being looted, he'd be singing a different tune.

Bill Penzey pondered this idea. Then he sent out a letter to subscribers and explained that no, he actually wouldn't.

The letter reads:

Keep Reading Show less

"Very nice!" It appears as though Kazakhstan's number one reporter, Borat Sagdiyev, is set to return to the big screen in the near future and the film's title is a sight to behold.

Reports show that the title submitted to the Writer's Guild of America, "Borat: Gift Of Pornographic Monkey To Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence To Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation Of Kazakhstan" is even longer than the first film's, "Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan."

As the title suggests, the film is expected to feature an encounter with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as well as President Trump's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Keep Reading Show less